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Since 2005, KNKX's School of Jazz has provided mentorship, learning and performance opportunities to Western Washington middle school, high school and college jazz students. A cornerstone of the station's signature community outreach program, it has directly impacted thousands of jazz students, band directors and professional musicians. School of Jazz is sponsored by BECU.

School of Jazz guest DJ for April: Ephraim Sewall

Snohomish High School jazz band baritone saxophonist Ephraim Sewall shares an hour of his favorite songs in the KNKX studios.
Abe Beeson
Snohomish High School jazz band baritone saxophonist Ephraim Sewall shares an hour of his favorite songs in the KNKX studios.

Baritone saxophonist Ephraim Sewall is this month's guest DJ. A senior at Snohomish High School, he gives credit to his teacher, fellow saxophonist Joe Walrath, for stoking his interest in jazz.

Sewall is a KNKX School of Jazz legacy. His big brother Evan played drums with the student group Jazz Illusion in our studios in 2022. Ephraim said the two look forward to studying and playing together at Central Washington University next year.

The younger Sewall credits his jazz community as well, including regular jam sessions coordinated by saxophonist and educator Brent Jensen at Five Rights Brewing Company in Marysville. "We pack the place," Sewell explained. "You can call a tune or just hop in, it's super fun."

Playing music from a 1961 album by baritone sax player Leo Parker, Sewall talked about the importance of knowing the history of jazz in order to understand it. He also lined up modern bari stars Lauren Sevian and Jason Marshall as well as big band pieces from Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton.

Ephraim Sewall's guest DJ show is a celebration of the saxophone's low end, an open-eared survey full of variety and feeling. Kick back and enjoy the jazz.

Which instrument do you play and why?

I primarily play baritone saxophone. My favorite thing about the bari sax is how expressive you can be with it, and the complex soulful sound you can achieve. Being able to rumble down low and suddenly sing in the higher register gives me so much versatility and room to shape my sound as a musician.

What's your all-time favorite jazz piece?

My all-time favorite jazz piece has to be Duke Ellington’s "Sophisticated Lady." Harry Carney on the baritone saxophone has such a moving sound that already makes "Sophisticated Lady" an amazing piece, but it also holds a lot of good memories for me because I had the opportunity to perform it at our winter jazz concert earlier this school year.

Who is your jazz hero?

My jazz hero is my saxophone teacher Joe Walrath. He has such a genuine passion for jazz and jazz education which I think is super inspiring. Joe has an amazing baritone sound that just feels so alive every time I hear him play. He always pushes me to be a better player and I am so lucky to be able to learn from him.

Why jazz?

Jazz relies so heavily on communication between both musicians and audience members, which is something that really stands out when compared to our increasingly individualistic society. I love being able to create with the people around me, and jazz is the best way I have found to express myself.

Ephraim's playlist:

  1. "Talkin' the Blues" Leo Parker
  2. "Such Sweet Thunder" Duke Ellington Orchestra
  3. "Misty" Ella Fitzgerald
  4. "Flip Flop" Melissa Aldana
  5. "Lamb and Bunny" Lauren Sevian
  6. "Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey!!" Jason Marshall
  7. "Pegasus" Stan Kenton Orchestra
  8. "Laura" Gary Smulyan
Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.